One-percenter and LazarusBy Jane Yoder-Short
Long before Occupy was talking about the 99 percent, Jesus told a story of a rich one-percenter.
This man wore imported cashmere-silk blend socks. (Actually, he wore Egyptian imported linen undergarments.)
He wore Brioni suits. (Actually, he wore purple garments that came at a premium since they required rare dye imported from Phoenicia.)
He dined daily on white truffles and tender lamb. (Actually, all we know is that he ate sumptuously.)
He lived in a mansion. (This is likely, since he had a gate.)
The space just outside the gate was occupied by Lazarus, one of the lowest of the 99 percent. Lazarus had sinned, and that is why he was poor. (Actually, we don’t know this, but in the ancient world wealth was often viewed as a sign of virtue and poverty as proof of sin.)
Did Lazarus once own land and then an urban banker foreclosed on it? Was he a laborer whose sores or excessive drinking prevented him from working? We aren’t told whether he was a deserving individual or had brought disgrace upon himself.
Lazarus longed to have just a few crumbs or a napkin from the rich man’s table. In those days pita-like bread napkins were used to wipe one’s hands. They were then thrown into the street. Lazarus dreamed of a napkin landing near him, but there were the dogs. They were quicker at getting the treats that fell outside the gate.
There is a great gap from one side of the gate to the other — a great gap from the urban elite to the expendable poor, from the 1 percent to the 99.
The rich man doesn’t notice the gap until the situation is reversed. They both die, and the rich man finds himself suffering. He sees Lazarus comfortably sitting with Abraham.
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